Couple of interesting developments in the Eastern District of relevance to the patent docket today.
First, current court statistics indicate 256 patent cases have been filed in the district in the last twelve months (last December and 2009 through November). That's down from 308 in 2008 and 371 in 2007, and includes the generally slow filings at the end of last year and the first two or three months of this year). But it's more than a little bit higher than I thought it would be, based in large part on how slow things were the first part of the year.
Second, the Federal Circuit issued another venue opinion in Novartis v. LaRoche today, reversing Judge Folsom's denial of a motion to transfer after re-weighing the relevant factors. No, the California plaintiff doesn't have to go to California - they have to go to North Carolina, where one of several defendants and several of the relevant witnesses are located, as well as where some of the development of the product at issue occurred (the latter of which seems to have been a major factor for the court).
Of interest, in light of the Fifth Circuit's holding in In re Volkswagen that the court cannot disregard the location of documents simply because they are easier to transport in this age of electronic discovery, was the appellate court's decision to do exactly that with respect to the plaintiff's 75,000 documents relating to conception and reduction to practice because the documents in question had been converted to electronic format and transported by the plaintiff from California to their counsel's office in Texas. In his two opinions Judge Folsom had actually declined to assign weight to the carpetbagger documents as the plaintiff asked, other than observing in a footnote in the reconsideration that "some" of the documents in the case were located in Texas, as opposed to In re Genentech, where none were. (Interestingly, the documents sent to Marshall were previously paper and in California - the page of the opinion where the appellate court considered the additional cost of shipping these 75,000 documents across the country to North Carolina as a factor weighing against transfer was missing from my copy. But I'm sure it was in there somewhere, since the Fifth Circuit was emphatic that the court could not disregard the location of the original documents).
The timing of Novartis is interesting, since the December issue of Robert Matthews' Patent Happenings has an excellent summary of recent venue rulings from the district, entitled Eastern District now applying a more main-stream view on transferring patent infringement actions. Judge Folsom's February 3 decision to deny transfer in the Novartis case is noted in a footnote - I am assuming the mandamus was predicated on the August 3 order denying the motion for reconsideration.